Page 5 of 8
Creating an Interlinking Pattern
Granted, the preceding tutorial was educational, but left a little to desire in terms of a sophisticated, intricate pattern. One of the most visually appealing pattern designs for centuries has been one where the elements link to one another— in a chain, a floral weave or other highly ornamental theme. You know how to define a pattern, but now you’ll learn how to create an element that links.
Open a new document window; in general, you want to design large pattern elements because you never know when you’ll need a large pattern for production-quality printing, so define a new document that’s 600 pixels wide by 200 pixels high. I typically design square patterns at 512 x 512 pixels, but this interlinking pattern requires added horizontal elbow room to build. Follow these steps to make a linking chain pattern:
- Choose the Elliptical Marquee tool, and then hold Shift (to make perfect circles) and drag a circle that’s 80% of the height of the new image window in the horizontal center of the window, leaving empty space at the bottom of the window (so the pattern will tile horizontally with a gap).
- Press D (default colors) and then choose Edit>Stroke. Set the Stroke width to 20 pixels, Location: Inside, and then click OK. Press Ctrl/cmd+D to deselect the selection.
- Look at Figure 5. The gold circle is the circle on the layer you just stroked. The red wavy line is the path you need to use with the Eraser tool, set to 20 pixels in diameter up on the Options bar. The blue in the figure are the areas you erase— the resulting shape is a chain that will link to copies of the original.
- Get fancy with this plain chain by adding a Style. Open the styles palette from the receive strip and then load the Web Styles from the flyout menu. Apply any one of the metal effects by simply clicking the icon.
- Duplicate the current layer twice by dragging the layer into the New icon on the Layers palette.
- With the Move tool (V), arrange the three links so they interlink with each other. Alternatively, you can precisely nudge them into place by pressing the arrow keys while the Move tool is chosen. If you hold Shift, you nudge a layer’s contents by 10 pixels instead of 1.
- Using the Rectangular Marquee tool, crop the window to the left and right edges of the circles. You’re doing this to better use the grid feature, not because this crop is the definition of the pattern itself.
- Choose View>Show>Grid, and then choose View>Snap To>Grid.
- With the Rectangular Marquee tool, drag from the exact vertical center of the left circle to the exact vertical center of the right circle. To better see the selection, click the Quick Mask button on the Toolbox. If your selection isn’t dead-centered, choose the Move tool and then keyboard arrow-nudge the selection horizontally. Then return to Standard editing mode by clicking the quick Mask button again. See figure 6.
- Choose Edit>Define Pattern and then name it.
- Apply your pattern to a new document window. In figure 7, I’ve got a splendid pattern to go with my Art Nouveau flowers on the sofa in the basement.